Former chief financial officer of Petters Group Worldwide Rick Engels has been appointed CEO of BroadSign International Inc., a provider of digital signage software. He succeeds one of the founders of BroadSign, Cord Christiansen, who will remain involved with the company as co-founder.
“Retailers want to get their message as close as possible to consumers making a buying decision,” Engels said. “Having interactive media in-store means a consumer will watch and be more likely to make a purchase.”
Digital software makes it possible for advertising to accommodate the constantly shifting tide of store merchandise.
Though in-store signs are on a smaller scale than other direct marketing channels such as e-mail and e-commerce, BroadSign initiatives still rely on relevance and targeting.
“There are four necessary parts to a digital sign campaign,” Engels explained. “Every campaign begins with content and the ability to get the right content in the right place at the right time.”
From there, a network of signs develops. The network can be a large retail outlet or something smaller, such as a doctor’s office.
BroadSign’s business model is predicated on the third component of a campaign: software. The technology allows content to change in order to accommodate the demographic or product being targeted. And there must be an actual screen for the display
Engels spoke of BroadSign’s recent experience with Accent Health, a network of 11,000 doctor’s offices.
“Once a month, Accent would send out a DVD to its mailing list,” he said. “Now, instead, it plays our product in the office. It can tailor its message to each part of the clinic. If it is in a pediatric ward, we can tailor the content to, say, a diaper commercial, and if it is a geriatric ward, we can make it relevant to that demographic.”
“Most people go to the pharmacy after a visit to the doctor, which makes the content relevant for drugs companies as well,” he added.
BroadSign, Minnetonka, MN, is in a period of aggressive growth, and Engels’ transition to chief executive was logical given his experience as chief financial officer of Petters Group.
In his previous role, he was a portfolio manager of 10 Petters Group companies, including BroadSign. He was elected to BroadSign’s board of directors a year ago and became president and chief operating officer of the company in May, roles which he retained upon becoming CEO.
“Engels has a wealth of knowledge and experience in bringing success to a variety of companies ranging from small private start-ups to large public corporations and has been a valuable addition to the BroadSign team,” said Tom Petters, chairman and CEO of Minnetonka-based Petters Group Worldwide and primary shareholder of BroadSign.
The company’s aggressive growth is based on the increasing importance of interactive media. Engels noted that $103 million was spent on interactive media in 2004, a number which increased nearly tenfold to $1.2 billion in 2006. By 2010, spend on interactive is projected to be $4 billion.
“The market is growing significantly and our model can scale and handle the increased number of locations,” he said.
BroadSign’s client list includes retailer Nordstrom in the US as well as Hess and Vodafone in Europe. In all, BroadSign’s breadth reaches 22 countries. The company went commercial in 2004 and currently has 50 employees, 40 of whom are in Montreal developing software technology
Engels graduated from Chaminade University of Honolulu and earned his MBA from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. He earned his degree from Chaminade during his seven years as a Navy diver in the Special Forces. He is 45 and married.
While Engels’ prime role is securing investments for the continued development of software, he realizes the importance of visibility. The company recently began using GoogleAds to increase exposure and the results have been positive.
“There is an increased focus on sales and marketing,” he added. “We are the premier sponsor of the Digital Expo in London and recently hired Weber Shandwick to increase our visibility in the marketplace.”